Bicyclist and pedestrian fatalities tripled from 2018-2019 across the state of Maine. This upsurge in fatalities has led the Bicycle Coalition of Maine to push for increased education and infrastructural improvements.
A call for traffic safety education
The coalition is urging state lawmakers to mandate traffic safety education in Maine schools, according to the Portland Press Herald. A bill has been introduced but is currently awaiting funding before the Appropriations Committee.
According to the coalition's assistant director, Jim Tasse, the media didn't often discuss roadway safety in 2019.
"One reason the numbers increased, we speculate, is there wasn’t as much media coverage of pedestrian fatalities. In 2018, after the first year of the Heads Up! initiative, there was a lot of press coverage and that may have increased the awareness of the issue and caused drivers to pay more attention," Tasse told the Portland Press Herald.
Heads Up! aims to educate drivers and pedestrians about their shared responsibility. The Bicycle Coalition of Maine and the Maine Department of Transportation (MaineDOT) runs the campaign. More importantly, the campaign urged drivers to:
- Watch out for pedestrians.
- Yield to pedestrians when in doubt.
- Comply with the posted speed limits.
- Avoid aggressive driving.
The Maine Bureau of Highway Safety is also pushing for better roadway safety education and state legislation. The agency plans to award grants to police departments in 21 communities with high crash rates. Portland, South Portland, and Westbrook are among these communities.
Factors in Maine bicyclist & pedestrian deaths
"We continue to see distracted drivers even though the hand-held ban has passed,” said Tasse. "When people are stopped, they are still typing, talking and not paying attention to the road. That is a source of ongoing concern. People are not paying their full attention to their automobile."
Maine's cellphone ban on drivers took effect on September 19, 2019. Penalties for violating this law include:
- First offense: $75 fine
- Subsequent offenses: $500 and potential three-month license suspension.
Other issues raised by Tasse include speeding, lack of sidewalks and crosswalks, and limited shoulders on state roads. MaineDOT recently devised a three-year plan, including $32.5 million in funding, to build more sidewalks and improve crosswalks.
Bicyclists and pedestrians have legal rights when they are injured by negligent drivers. If you were hurt in a crash, you're likely overwhelmed by medical expenses and other damages. The Law Offices of Joe Bornstein has more than four decades of experience representing injured people throughout Maine. Our legal team will leave no stone unturned when investigating your crash and helping you build a solid claim.
We have law offices all over the state of Maine. Contact us online today to schedule your free case evaluation.